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Carbon scam: Noel Kempff climate action project and the push for sub-national forest offsets

This paper examines the Noel Kempff Climate Action Project (NKCAP) as a prototype for future sub-national projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). It evaluates the ability of the project to deliver on claims to quantify and reduce carbon emissions and bring sustainable benefits to local communities. It notes that over the last decade of the project (1997-2009), the estimated emission reductions of NKCAP have plummeted by nearly 90 per cent, from about 55 million to about 5.8 million metric tonnes of CO2.

The paper argues that, although NKCAP has been hailed as a successful model for sub-national offset projects, a careful analysis of the documentation relating to the project, combined with on-site interviews and research, indicates that the project has failed to meet its own claims to properly monitor and account for leakage (drivers of deforestation moving to another area), ensure additionality (proving that a specific forest area would not have remained standing without offset compensation), guarantee its permanence for the foreseeable future and provide adequate sustainable development opportunities for local communities. Despite over 10 million US dollars in financing and 12 years of operation, the model for sub-national REDD offsets has yet to produce real, measurable, reportable and verifiable emission reductions.

The paper makes the following recommendations.

  • In order to ensure that global temperature rise does not exceed two degrees Celsius, world leaders must agree to create a new global fund for forests at the Copenhagen climate change conference in December 2009.
  • All countries should participate in combating climate change by reducing transaction costs, ensuring the integrity of baselines and preventing leakage, non-additionality and impermanence.
  • A REDD mechanism should ensure that benefits are equitably shared both among and within countries and reach those whose livelihoods depend on forests.